Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The Gospel According to Brian

Brian McLaren is a leading figure in the Emergent Church movement. Claiming evangelical credentials he has steathily being distancing himself from evangelical beliefs for many years now - with the encouragement that others should do the same. His latest book continues this trend away from Biblical foundations...

Kevin De Young has reviewed the book HERE.

Anyone wanting to know where questioning and ditching unpopular Biblical doctrines ends up taking you - or who has a pastoral concern for protecting the church from false teaching should take time to read it.

As De Young says....
Brian McLaren is on a quest—“a quest for new ways to believe and new ways to live and serve faithfully in the way of Jesus, a quest for a new kind of Christian faith”. On this quest, McLaren raises and responds to ten questions.

Some may be thinking, “What’s wrong with this new kind of Christianity?”
Well, as it turns out, pretty much everything.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Paying God Forward

At the heart of the Gospel is the truth that salvation is a gift – it cannot be earned and we certainly don’t deserve it. Grace is the heartbeat of the Christian’s relationship with God – Jesus has done it all, as an old hymn says…

Nothing either great or small -
Nothing, sinner, no;
Jesus did it, did it all,
Long, long ago.'

It is finished!' yes indeed,
Finished every jot:
Sinner this is all you need -
Tell me, is it not?

Till to Jesus' work you cling
By a simple faith,
'Doing' is a deadly thing -
'Doing' ends in death.

Cast your deadly 'doing' down -
Down at Jesus' feet;
Stand in Him, in Him alone,
Gloriously complete.

God’s love & acceptance of us is not conditional on any moral attainments or spiritual performance on our part – it just is, or rather, it just is in Jesus. Paul in Romans 6:1 anticipates the objection that inevitably follows such a statement – so if salvation isn’t about what I do – then let the sinning commence! But among the many reasons and motivations for giving ourselves to Christ-like living let me highlight the idea of ‘Paying God Forward’.

Why do (good) parents look-after, care for and love their children? Because they are hoping for some kind of payback or some reciprocal benefit from those children? Of course not, they love, care & attend because it instinctive to do so – their motivation is love rather than quid pro quo. Actually any notion of quid pro quo between parents and children is a pipe-dream. How could children ever really repay the hours of time, sacrifice & effort devoted to them by parents?

No, good parents devote themselves to their children unconditionally – with no agenda of self-gain. They do, however, extend their love and care in hope – the hope that rather than being 'paid back' they might be ‘paid forward’. That is, that their children will mature and grow-up to extend to others (e.g. their own children in turn) something of the love, care and kindness that has been shown to them.

So with God – the Christian life is not to pay God back (impossible!) but to pay Him forward. To show to others something of the love that Christ has shown to us – and like good human parents, God our Father is never so pleased and honoured when we do.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010


From A View From The Foothills - the diaries of Chris Mullin, MP for Sunderland and a junior minister during the Blair years. Have been struck that a number of his observations on politics could also be applied (good or bad) to the church... I post them as no more than food for thought.

What kind of politician am I? Had I been asked when I first went into Parliament, I might gibly have replied that I saw it as my mission 'to comfort the afflicted and to afflict the comfortable'. But over the years I learned that there is a more to politics than that. If you are to stand a chance of changing very much for the better, you have to be capable of forming a government and to do that you have to take with you a swathe of the comfortable. It follows, therefore, than in an age of majority affluence, any serious politician has to spend a fair amount of time attending to the needs of the comfortable. (p.xii)

To Harrow to deliver my 'Why Politics Matters' speech to about 50 sixth-formers.... Most of the questions were depressingly predictable. (Sample: 'Why is New Labour so obsessed with gays and fox hunting? Answer: 'We're not, but you seem to be.') (p.154)

A valedictory message from one FCO Ambassador - Perpetual re-examination, renaming and reprioritising take their toll. Too much of our effort has gone into managing and studying ourselves with the result that the tools of our trade have rusted and bilateral relations have been downgraded. Substance is giving way to process. (p.517)

My agent, Kevin Marquis is quoted: 'When I joined the Labour Party, aged 19, I was one of the youngest members. I am now 41 and still one of the youngest.' (p96)

The Cabinet, say Bruce (who has been a fly on the wall at Cabinet meetings for eight years), is composed mainly of people who are average. I challenged this on the grounds (a) that he and I were average and (b) that the world is forever being screwed up by brilliant people. He immediately conceded. 'What I mean is that so many of them have no discernable politics.' Those Bruce rates include Margaret Beckett, David Blunkett, Alan Johnson, John Prescott, John Reid and Jack Straw. The rest he dismisess as managerial types - capable, efficient, but without an idealogical anchor. (p526)

Saturday, February 06, 2010

Theology FAQs

Ever felt a little embarrassed that you don't really know the difference between 'Post' & 'A' Millennialism? Or would just a like a short and easy to read explanation of terms like Pelagianism, semi-Pelagianism, sensus plenior, Calvinism, Dispensationalism, Biblical Theology (as opposed to Systematic Theology)....etc. Or wondered how do God's Sovereignty and human responsibility coexist....

Then the MONERGISM website has a great list of such FAQs - HERE.

It will even explain what 'monergism' means!